New year, new travels! Back on the road after my holiday hiatus, and like the birds and retirees I’m heading south with the warmth. One of my first stops was Savannah where I had the best luck and crossed paths with two of my favorite people for a night of fun as they headed back to DC from Florida.
I’m not going to lie… driving into Savannah was underwhelming. Savannah doesn’t have a skyline to speak of and the direction from which I arrived provided mainly views of factories or something similar (also stinky). The beauty of the city lies behind the wall of modern hotels and tourist shops lining the waterfront area. And beautiful it is with all its historic squares and beautiful homes and gardens. Live oaks covered with Spanish moss trailing down make even uneventful streets seem alluring, mysterious and romantic. I love, too, how they’re not afraid of color in the south (or the parts I’ve seen so far)- pretty pinks, yellows abound with major pops of color on doors, shutters, and trims.
We started the evening with rooftop drinks by the river, and had a majorly cholesterol-heavy dinner, then took to a ridiculous piano bar for some fun people-watching and group sing alongs. This place was quite the gathering of characters epitomizing of what one might stereotype the south. There were groups of super preppie folks, some groups of bachelorettes straight out of Forever 21, a group of younger people taking turns dancing with an elderly gentleman who could have been adorable or skeezy, had to tell from afar, and a group who were willing to pay lots of cash to have the message ‘Trump 2020’ in several different iterations posted behind the singers. I guess the place has a nightly thing where patrons can pay for their messages, some of which were expected like ‘Danielle’s Birthday!’, but these people one upped each person to keep their political stuff up there and cheered like mad each time it went up. I’ll bet they changed soooooo many votes that way, but if that’s how they want to waste a few hundred bucks, so be it. My favorite was when some other group put up ‘Dolly Parton 2020’ as a response, which really may be a unifying rally for America. Anyway, I belted out some *fabulous* renditions of Journey, Wagon Wheel, Lizzo, and whatever random stuff people requested. Everyone around me was grateful when there was a song I didn’t know and their ears got a rest.
After my happy reunion was over, I made it my goal to walk to every square in Savannah and racked up some good mileage in the process. Each was a little different and had its own flavor, some with beautiful fountains, historic statues and plaques, and serene landscaping. Modern streets and sidewalks intersected with old cobblestones, which knowing me, resulted in some pretty funny trips. People make fun of me for walking and looking down at my feet so often but this is why!
I wandered through both the Colonial Park cemetery in town, and drove out and spent the morning at the gorgeous Bonaventure cemetery outside the city center. This place would be a wonderful spot for one’s remains to call home for eternity. Right on the riverside with views of marsh, and Spanish moss adorning trees left and right, it’s just a pretty spot enhanced by the elaborate statues and grave markers. I chatted with a fisherman who used to live in Maryland and we agreed this was a little more peaceful than inside the beltway.
I toured some beautiful old homes, including the mansion heavily featured in ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ owned by Jim Williams. Man, is it gorgeous. The house itself is a work of art and Williams filed it with even more beauty from antiques, items refurbished in his own workshop, and mementos ranging from hunting trophy antlers to preserved wasp’s nests from his grandfather’s farm. I spent a day in the Telfair museums, one of which showcased modern art, another classic art in an old mansion, and the third a historic home which once housed Lafayette (my brain may have played the name ala Hamilton each time it was brought up) for a time.
Food and drink is a big part of Savannah culture, and I couldn’t leave town without partaking, of course. I had lunch at the Olde Pink House, which is a fabulous mansion turned restaurant, and has a cool basement bar with a bank vault turned wine cellar. It’s legal to wander the streets with a drink in your hand, too, which I tried out during a haunted ghost pub crawl tour recommended by a high school friend who was my secret Savannah resource (thanks Bob!). It was a small tour on a chilly evening with a couple from Kentucky, myself, and a group of ladies who looked ready to hit a club in Vegas and were freezing immediately trailing along in their heels all night, and the guide dressed as a soldier who tolerated me ruining some of his dad jokes throughout the evening (sorry, Rhett, I was too excited that hearing so many bad jokes actually paid off for once). I didn’t feel any ghostly presence, but did have a great bloody Mary.
My favorite place in the city, though, was Forsyth Park. It was a gorgeous sunny January day with temperatures in the low 60s as I walked through the park, plopped down on a bench to read for a bit. Around me people were playing soccer and frisbee games in the grassy fields, kids and dogs were running happily among the trees, tourists (such as myself) jockeyed for photo space with the dozen or more wedding parties posing in the last hours of daylight. The golden glow on the moss and peeking through the oaks and palmettos was a pretty magical view to end a day of walking. Pretty decent and delicious start to my southern adventures.